TJ Steele, chef owner of Claro, Brooklyn, New York was born into an Italian family in New Jersey where he grew up cooking next to his mother and grandmother. He attended The Culinary Institute of America and moved to New York City in 2002. Within three years, at the age of 25, he was made Executive Sous Chef at Danny Meyer’s landmark, award-winning Union Square Cafe. In 2012, TJ went to Oaxaca, Mexico to study, eat, and travel in the hopes of marrying his love of seasonal, farm-to-table cooking, with his love of Mexican gastronomy. In the summer of 2017, he opened Claro, a Oaxacan influenced restaurant in Gowanus, Brooklyn with an emphasis on seasonal cooking using corn, barbacoa, consommé and mezcal. Steele makes everything by hand, including the cheeses, chorizo and moles and masa. He is planting corn on his land in Oaxaca as well as working directly with Oaxacan farmers to source and import non-GMO heirloom corn.
Since opening, Steele has been awarded a Michelin star for Claro, named StarChefs Rising Star Chef and the reader’s choice winner for Eater Chef of the Year as well as Chef to Watch by Plate Magazine. The New York Times listed Claro as one of its top 10 restaurants of the year.